Makers of things can be a curious bunch. On the doorstep of the Coast Mountains in North Vancouver, a team of designers, developers, athletes, tool and pattern makers flew to a remote glacier near Bella Coola, BC to live for a week in the middle of nowhere.
It may seem simple, but time is something very few companies give their people. Designers need time to explore, to learn and ultimately, to fail, because the only way to make something great is to go out and wreck some prototypes until you come up with something that works.
Our basecamp stayed warm with the help of a tiny woodstove designed and built in our Design Centre. Who doesn’t pack a woodstove ski touring?
Trips like this are important; there’s a huge benefit to having a wilderness workshop right out the front door. But when you set up camp on a glacier above the treeline you need to find a way to supply your own firewood.
Arc'teryx Athlete & UIAGM Mountain Guide
"In the last few years, I have been experimenting with a two-layer system, instead of the traditional 3 layer system, for ski touring.
With this set up I never overheat on the way up, and always stay warm and dry on the way down.
The Tauri jacket is perfect for this, the right amount of insulation to keep me warm and a bombproof Gore outer layer to keep me dry. It packs down to about exactly the same size as my skins, so when my skins go on the Tauri slips perfectly into my pack in their place."
Forrest Coots is no stranger to the mountains. One of the athletes on the trip, he is a world class ski mountaineer and lives on the slopes of Mt Shasta, in Northern California.
"The coolest part of this trip was just hanging out at basecamp in the middle of nowhere. The skiing was terrible so we had time. We could talk about products and crazy design ideas with no distractions."
"The new Procline AR Boot is the perfect balance of stiffness and overall lightness in a backcounty ski boot."
Apprentice ACMG Ski & Alpine Guide
"The Fission Mitten is the perfect compliment to my ski touring kit. I use a thinner, cooler glove for the up track but as soon as I start to transition I switch to the mitt. They are extremely warm without sacrificing dexterity, this allows me to strip my skins or put on extra layers in comfort. Additionally, they stay dry while digging pits and doing snow profiles allowing me to take my time and do a thorough, careful job. The leather reinforcements make for a burly mitt that lasts, meaning there isn’t a day in the winter that I leave home without them."
IFMGA/ACMG Mountain Guide
"Alpha SV Jacket: Don't leave home without it! This piece is the equivalent to my mountain seatbelt, I hope I don't need it but it comes with me almost every day in the mountains just in case the weather turns and I need reliable protection from the elements. Has all the ingredients I need in a technical shell: excellent fit for climbing, breathability, functional hood and pockets that take what I throw at them."
Design Director - Outdoor Product
"The best ideas come from problems. Overcoming those problems requires exploration and the space to tinker. We are given that space." Greg is the Design Director for outdoor product and maintains a close connection to the athletes who push our gear to the limits. Learning from their extensive in-field use gives him inspiration to create solution-driven designs.
Design Developer - Tooling and Machines
Chris brings a wood stove ski touring. Don’t you? Our products require unique construction. Chris has to figure out which tools make the process efficient and reproducible. A tool developer and general mountain man, he embraces the idea of failure in making things. "The more we fail, the more we learn and overcome."
"I am so sick of always being cold! Trying to figure out multiple layers under a shell and in the end being claustrophobic and unable to move freely. I think my life changed when I decided to add a Firebee to my backpack. Not much more weight or volume but the comfort of knowing I will not freeze no matter how the weather turns. I really suggest you add this to your wardrobe if you're one of the people that everyone is continuously asking 'are you actually that cold!?' It's brilliant!"
Project Manager, Product Content
"The Shashka pants are my all-time favourite touring pants. They're lightweight and super comfortable, but can be counted on to keep you warm and dry out there. The bib section is made from a softshell fabric that is stretchy and comfortable, keeps the snow out without feeling restrictive. The big side vents and 2 huge thigh pockets come in super handy. The straps are also some of the only bib straps I've found that consistently stay up. These have replaced all the other ski pants in my closet - I chose these for every day of touring last winter."
Senior Design Developer
Nathalie is an elite operator when it comes to design and is known for one-off pieces that have become award winning products. Prior to Arc'teryx, she gained over a decade of experience in understanding movement and durability while creating garments for Cirque du Soleil. Nathalie has an incredible ability for turning pictures and ideas into a reality. Her mark of being obsessed with perfection and performance is shown in each piece she makes.
ACMG Full Rock Guide & Camp Cook
Kinley Aitken grew up in the Coast Mountains. Her diverse interests has led her to have worked as a stunt woman, professional rigger, massage therapist, rope access technician, raft guide and outdoor educator. Kinley has spent over a decade working in B.C’s premiere heli, cat and ski touring lodges. She also runs her own private backcountry catering business, which the camp got to experience.
TRY IT IN STORE
Can't decide? Drop in to your local brand store and try it on, or ask our staff about their favourite products.Find Your Nearest Brand Store
Brylee, who once designed her own custom ski racing suit, understands the need to experiment…and why warm feet make for good ski days.
Packs & Gloves
Athletes are encouraged to get their tech nerd on and give detailed feedback on everything they test. In other words, they’re encouraged to have fun and destroy things.
Skiing & Snowboarding
In that continuous workshop, one that combines life in an office with life in the mountains, the get ‘er done ethos of making at Arc’teryx is fused with a sense of wonder and the willingness to completely mess up. It’s what produces gear that works.
FAILURE, FUNCTION AND GETTING IT DONE
Recently designers and developers, tool and pattern makers, athletes and searchers, thinkers and creators lived on a remote glacier near Bella Coola, BC for a week, unsupported. Inspiration and creativity are born from exploration, patience and failure.
When the typical bad coastal weather settled on the camp, there was plenty of time to discuss functionality and improvements. Time is a critical element of solving design challenges at Arc'teryx. Time to explore, to learn, and ultimately, to fail. When there is time to tinker and iterate, there is ample space to create.